2017 NFL Draft
Scouting Report
Prospect:  Christian McCaffrey


School:          Stanford
Ht:  6'-0"       Wt:  200
Eligibility:      JR
Uniform:       #5
Position:      RB

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It has been tough to try and put my finger on the kind of role McCaffrey will fill in the NFL. Stanford uses him all over the field, and while his dominant position in college has been running back, there are wavering opinions on whether he should play there or receiver at the next level. What isn't a debate is the fact that he has the kind of skillset that can keep defensive coordinators up at night.

No matter where he lines up, McCaffrey has terrific vision once the ball is in his hands. He has natural instincts to understand what is going on in front of him, and he reacts quickly to what he sees. He may have an upright running style, but he uses quick, active feet to cut on a dime. That combination has made him a terror in the open field. I would classify him as quicker than he is fast, and while he doesn't have great speed, he rarely gets caught because he has great initial acceleration, and is usually in full sprint by the time opponents start to react.

He also has very good ball skills. As a receiver, he looks natural extending his arms to the ball, and as a returner, he looks comfortable fielding punts. No matter where he plays in the offense, he will likely have a big role on special teams. He also has an advanced feel for running routes, unlike most college running backs. He sets up defenders well and comes out of his breaks quickly. His ability to separate is a big reason he could fit as a slot receiver.

There are reasons I don't consider him an elite prospect at either position. As mentioned earlier, he is quicker than he is fast. He isn't going to be able to run the full route tree if teams try to make him a full-time receiver. On the other hand, he isn't powerful enough to be a true running back. His six-foot frame has just about all the weight it can handle without losing his terrific agility and burst. However, without the added weight he doesn't break many tackles, and would most certainly not be able to take the 20 to 25-carry beating.

I also worry about the upright running style. Leaving those legs vulnerable doesn't usually work out well for athletes. Still, he has outstanding work ethic and character, and coaches rave about how smart he is. He is also as competitive as any player I have scouted and doesn't accept failure.

The big question will be which teams feel like they can fit him in their system. I personally could see him in a similar role as Danny Woodhead in San Diego, where a team lines him up in the backfield, then motions him to different spots depending on the defensive scheme and personnel. Randall Cobb, Darren Sproles, and Dion Lewis have played similar roles and had success. They are too good at receiver to cover with a linebacker, yet good enough out of the backfield to warrant keeping your nickel and dime backs on the sideline. Still, McCaffrey has the kind of ability to take that role to another level.

Compares to (Current NFL Player): Danny Woodhead (San Diego Chargers)

- Versatility is as impressive as any offensive player in the country
- Great instincts with the ball in his hands
- Elite agility
- Terrific ball skills
- Model player, teammate, and citizen
- Smart

- Doesn't have a true position at next level
- Good not great speed
- Undersized for RB
- Lot of miles on his tires

Austin Smith
September 28, 2016

1)   Christian McCaffrey On Heisman Finish, Motivation: 'I Want To Win In Everything I Do'   - CampusInsiders.com
2)   Why I Play Football   - ThePlayerTribune.com
3)   Le'Veon Bell: Christian McCaffrey is CFB's top rusher    - NFL.com
4)   Christian McCaffrey Twitter
5)   Christian McCaffrey Instagram

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